Deeded Interest: Let’s not let our neighbors turn and head tail |

Deeded Interest: Let’s not let our neighbors turn and head tail

Scott Bayens
Deeded Interest
Scott Bayens

As the wheels folded up beneath me and Bridger on a recent non-stop flight from Aspen to Houston, I breathed a sigh of relief. Unlike other trips, once we were in the air, I knew the next stop would be our final destination. Considering how unreliable air travel has been post-COVID, not having to stress over a connecting flight or worry about a delay, cancellation or an overnight stay in the airport hotel was nearly enough to lull me to sleep.

I can tell you we paid for the privilege, however, an upgrade we are fortunate to afford. Heading to Denver is usually cheaper but also a serious hassle unless we’re squeezing in some mile-high fun. The point is, those of us who complain about the current state of the friendly skies as we jet off to any number of resort destinations to “get away” from the resort destination we call home certainly defines a first-world problem.

I also thought about how those of us who have benefited from the pandemic financially. Many of us seem to have grown numb to the increased cost of things, are lucky enough not to have to pay attention or just grin and bear it. Not to say we don’t all gasp at the grocery store or the pump these days — food and fuel and clothing are necessities — so we all are forced to swallow the bitter pill. Travel, not so much.

You’ll notice I’ve not yet mentioned the price of housing in our beloved mountain hamlet. Last time I checked, we all need a place to lay our head down at night. As a Realtor here in the valley for nearly 18 years, I’ll admit that, more and more of late, I’ve had to hold my nose. 

I am keenly aware I could never afford to live here now, having bought my current home 14 years ago (which was new at the time) for six figures. That’s not reality now, and rents are off the charts, forcing too many locals to turn and head tail.

Friends like to bust my chops, blaming me and fellow brokers for the increased traffic, longer waits at restaurants and difficulty with all number of advanced reservations (Think: campgrounds and concerts). Of course, all those who moved here the past couple years would have done so with or without me, but my colleagues and I certainly facilitated and benefited from the migration. 

So, as I flew up and away, my head remained on the ground contemplating the challenges at home that have become too easy to ignore. Perhaps akin to global warming, no matter how you want to deny it or dismiss it or argue it away, there’s no denying the snow season is shorter and the fire season longer. 

The critical issue of housing our essential workers, teachers, firefighters and health-care providers is a storm that’s not only been forewarned, but it’s arrived in force and is growing in strength and size. And, this time, we just can’t take cover and wait for it to pass. It must be faced, fought and defeated. Some are doing just that.

For example, the Aspen Skiing Co. is incentivizing local residents to rent their homes to their seasonal employees. Find a place for a liftie to live and SkiCo will set you up with a season pass. Last year 40% of their staff found housing this way. 

The Eagle County School District, in which not a single school is fully staffed, administrators got creative by asking homeowners in the area to put vacant houses, condos, lock-offs, caretaker units and empty bedrooms up for use by teachers and staff. The response since the appeal went out is reportedly “overwhelming.” 

Recently we learned CDOT, which among other things, keeps the roads clear of snow and keeps boulders from dropping on cars, is short at least 20% of its maintenance staff in nearly half the counties in the state. Turns out they are now in direct competition with fast food chains like Wendy’s, which offers as much as $20 per hour. No easy solution there. 

But, clearly, there are ways to come together as a community and as individuals to tackle some of the problems we face for the foreseeable future. While they be only stop-gap in nature, they could give us the time we need to come up with more long-term solutions.

But, make no mistake, should we ignore these new headwinds, thinking our locked doors, closed gates and our towers in the sky will protect us, we do so at our own peril. I think all of us all here in the mountains feel the uncertainly of our times, change beneath our feet and the need to seriously address the needs of those who protect and serve us.

Scott Bayens is a Realtor® with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Visit his website at